The National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) has announced the 2012 award recipients who will be honored at the annual NTWAB awards dinner to be held Oct. 31 in Pasadena, Cal. The awards honor individuals who have made a difference in the sport of horse racing.
This year’s honorees include Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez and his agent, Ivan Puhich, retired Churchill Downs track superintendent Raymond "Butch" Lehr, and two-time Eclipse Award recipient Bill Mooney.
Gutierrez and Puhich will receive the Mr. Fitz Award, named for the late Hall of Fame trainer Jim “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, for typifying the spirit of racing. Gutierrez, 25, drew mainstream attention when he guided I’ll Have Another to a win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby after a shocking upset win in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes a month earlier. He followed those wins with thrilling victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown before an injury forced I’ll Have Another into early retirement one day before the colt was set to attempt the final jewel in the Belmont Stakes. Puhich, 85, has been a jockey’s agent for most of his life.
Gutierrez, drawing from Puhich’s vast knowledge, displayed remarkable patience and poise in delivering two masterful rides aboard I’ll Have Another and handled the setback in the Belmont with the same grace that accompanied his two memorable triumphs, yet another positive reflection on Puhich.